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What’s On In San Francisco In October
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What’s On In San Francisco In October

Picture of Culture Trip
Updated: 15 November 2016
This October, explore San Francisco through the best events the city has to offer, such as film festivals and concerts, along with art, music, literature, film, fashion and food events. Read on to browse our top picks for this month and be sure to mark your calendars with your favorites!

Sat Oct 1st – Sun Oct 2nd

FESTIVAL | Yerba Buena Gardens Festival

📅 Sun May 1st – Sun Oct 30th

The Yerba Buena Gardens Festival commenced Sunday, May 1st, and will continue through the end of October at the Yerba Buena Gardens. The festival will feature over 75 performances, including music, dance and theater, along with family programs and cultural events. See the full calendar of events here. Admission to YBGF is 100 percent free, but donations are welcomed here. For a taste of what to expect, watch clips from past festivals here.

📍Yerba Buena Gardens, 750 Howard St, San Francisco, CA, USA

THEATER | SF Shakespeare Festival

📅 Sat July 2nd – Sun Oct 2nd

Celebrate Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary at this year’s San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival is a nonprofit regional theater company and major arts education provider, best known for its summer Free Shakespeare in the Park production. This year’s festival programs include Free Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare On Tour, Tailor-Made Residencies, The Bay Area Shakespeare Camps, Midnight Shakespeare and Shakespeare for All.

📍Various locations

MUSIC | Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

📅 Fri Sept 30th – Sun Oct 2nd

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is a free annual music festival that will take place at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, specifically in Hellman Hollow and Marx and Lindley Meadows. This massive event features seven stages that will host over 100 artists and has been funded by the late Warren Hellman for the past 15 years. The event draws thousands of attendees from all over the Bay Area annually to treat their ears for three days.

📍Hellman Hollow, Golden Gate Park, JFK Drive and 25th Avenue, San Francisco, CA, USA

ART | ArtSpan SF Open Studios

📅 Sat Oct 1st – Sun Nov 6th

All month you can enjoy ArtSpan’s 41st annual SF Open Studios as the most prominent artists around the city open their doors to the public to showcase their recent works and interact with the community. This event is the oldest and biggest open studios event in the nation, featuring over 800 artists working in mediums like painting, photography, printmaking, glass, metal sculpture and more. Come out to meet the artists, buy some art and support San Francisco’s community of creatives.

📍Various locations

FESTIVAL | Castro Street Fair

📅 Sun Oct 2nd

A classic San Francisco event, the annual Castro Street Fair is coming to the heart of the Castro District. Founded by Harvey Milk in 1974, the fair celebrates the LGBT community by bringing live entertainment, dancing, music and crafts to the intersection of Market and Castro. The fair is actually a nonprofit organization, donating all proceeds directly to a variety of charitable causes held dear to the Castro community, including maintenance of the famous, giant rainbow flag that flies over Harvey Milk Plaza.

📍Castro Street, San Francisco, CA, USA

Mon Oct 3rd – Sun Oct 9th

FESTIVAL | Fleet Week

📅 Fri Oct 7th – Mon Oct 10th

Fleet Week is an annual San Francisco celebration honoring the Americans serving in the Navy and Marine Corps. The celebration primarily features a series of air shows put on by the Blue Angels, which you can watch for free from the Marina Green with much of the San Francisco community or watch from the comfort of your own rooftop. For a more exclusive experience, VIP seating is available as well. Other Fleet Week events include a parade of ships and ship tours.

📍Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, CA, USA


📅 Fri Oct 7th – Sat Oct 15th

This month, the annual San Francisco Litquake will return to the city. This event is a week long and features a series of literary events at a variety of venues, attracting hundreds of the best writers from around the Bay Area to events like panel discussions, author readings, book signings, storytelling, film screenings and more. Many of the events are free and open to all ages. See the full schedule here, and be sure to check out the popular Lit Crawl on the last night of the festival, which will feature a series of free events around the Mission district.

📍Various locations

FUN | Columbus Day Parade

📅 Sun Oct 9th

In honor of Columbus Day weekend, come out to the Columbus Day Parade, also known as the Italian Heritage Parade. This event is the longest running Italian heritage parade in the country, hosting a free celebration with a Ferrari sports car display in addition to a variety of family-friendly activities. The parade will begin at 12:30 p.m. at Jefferson & Stockton in Fisherman’s Wharf, finishing up in Washington Square in North Beach.

📍Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, CA, USA

Mon Oct 10th – Sun Oct 16th

FILM | San Francisco International Festival of Short Films

📅 Thurs Oct 13th – Sat Oct 15th

In the middle of this month, come out to the Mission’s Roxie Theater to enjoy the San Francisco International Festival of Short Films. The festival will feature a variety of films, each less than 30 minutes long, from 17 countries, and will be mixed in with six feature programs. The films will incorporate a wide range of genres, subjects, styles and cultures, intending to ‘[grab] someone by the eyeballs and [make] them think, feel and react.’ Watch the trailer for this year’s International Festival of Short Films here.

📍Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St, San Francisco, CA, USA

FESTIVAL | Potrero Hill Festival

📅 Sat Oct 15th

This month brings the 27th annual Potrero Hill Festival to — you guessed it — the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. The festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on 20th Street, between Wisconsin and Missouri Streets. Enjoy a day full of fun, food, music, crafts, rides and community activities, including a puppet show and a petting zoo. The event has been known to draw over 6,000 attendees, and will feature two stages hosting performances and food offered by a variety of Potrero Hill vendors. Proceeds will benefit the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House.

📍22nd Street, San Francisco, CA, USA

MUSIC | Treasure Island Music Festival

📅 Sat Oct 15th – Sun Oct 16th

This year marks the 10th annual Treasure Island Music Festival. The two day event is an outdoor concert festival featuring genres from electronic to indie pop, while hosting local designers and artists with a variety of food and drinks. The event takes place on Treasure Island, offering spectacular views of the city and the bay. This year’s lineup features artists such as Ice Cube, Glass Animals, Sigur Rós, James Blake, Purity Ring, Zhu, Tycho, Mac DeMarco, Sylvan Esso, Neon Indian, How To Dress Well and Christine and the Queens.

📍Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA, USA

DANCE | San Francisco Trolley Dances

📅 Sat Oct 15th – Sun Oct 16th

For the 13th year in a row, Epiphany Productions is bringing the San Francisco Trolley Dances to Muni routes around the city. In this one-of-a-kind event, artists are matched up with specific locations to perform short performance pieces that reflect and respond to the environment, architecture and history of the area. This event is 100% free, offering two hour tours throughout the Castro and SoMa that begin at the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library at a variety of times throughout the day.

📍Various locations

FESTIVAL | Excelsior Arts and Music Festival

📅 Sun Oct 16th

The annual Excelsior Arts and Music Festival will take place this month, hosting family-friendly art and music for free in the Excelsior district of San Francisco. The event will take place on Ocean Avenue and San Juan Avenue from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature live music, multicultural food vendors and entertainment for all ages, including kids events that teach science, arts and crafts and more. The event will be partnering with Sunday Streets, closing off Mission Street for fun that is friendly to pedestrians, bikers, rollerbladers and skateboarders.

📍Ocean Ave & Mission St, San Francisco, CA, USA

Mon Oct 17th – Sun Oct 23rd

FILM | San Francisco Dance Film Festival

📅 Thurs Oct 20th – Sun Oct 23rd

The 7th annual San Francisco Dance Film Festival is coming this month, and will host screenings of the best dance films from around the world. The event will screen 70 films, including everything from feature documentaries on choreographers to experimental short films, some of them premiering for the first time ever in the U.S. at the Brava Theater Center. The festival will also host a variety of year-round activities, including filmmaking workshops, lectures at universities and dance schools and free film presentations at the public library.

📍Brava! for Women In the Arts, 2781 24th St, San Francisco, CA, USA

FILM | United Nations Association Film Festival

📅 Thurs Oct 20th – Sun Oct 30th

The 19th annual United Nations Association Film Festival is coming soon to Palo Alto, Stanford University and San Francisco. Originally intended to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the festival screens a series of films about human rights, the environment, women’s issues, refugees, racism and health. This year’s theme is ‘Compass for a Better World,’ highlighting aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals. View the full festival schedule here, and buy tickets here.

📍Various locations

FOOD | San Francisco Barbecue Festival

📅 Sat Oct 22nd

The San Francisco Barbecue Festival is coming to the city for its second year this month to celebrate the best of barbecue in the Bay Area. The event will feature a Kansas City Barbecue Society competition with a $10,000 prize and will be rated by over 40 judges in the categories of presentation, texture and taste. The event will also host a beer garden with 15 local craft breweries, live rock music, a cornhole tournament and more. The event will take place at The Yard at Mission Rock, near AT&T Park, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

📍The Yard at Mission Rock, 100 Terry A Francois Blvd, San Francisco, CA, USA

FESTIVAL | San Francisco’s Wharf Fest

📅 Sat Oct 22nd

San Francisco’s Wharf Fest is a free event hosted by the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District on the Little Embarcadero from Taylor to Powell Streets and in the parking lot at Jefferson and Taylor. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the festival will bring live music, street performers, craft and food vendors, kids’ rides, ship tours and fireworks to the San Francisco waterfront. The event will also host a chowder cook-off and a battle of the bands, all available for free.

📍Jefferson St & Embarcadero St, San Francisco, CA, USA

Mon Oct 24th – Mon Oct 31st

FUN | San Francisco Fall Antiques Show

📅 Thurs Oct 27th – Sun Oct 30th

The San Francisco Fall Antiques Show is the oldest operating international antiques show on the West Coast, and features about 60 antiques dealers that offer a broad range of wares. Browse through a collection of beautiful pieces including furniture, silver, ceramics, glass, jewelry, rugs, textiles, paintings, prints, photography, books and sculptures. The show will take place over four days, and will include an opening night preview gala and patron receptions. The event is hosted in collaboration with the Antiques Dealers Association of California, ensuring all merchandise is of the highest quality.

📍Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco, CA, USA

FILM | Another Hole in the Head Genre Film Festival

📅 Thurs Oct 27th – Wed Nov 9th

This year marks the 13th annual occurrence of the Another Hole in the Head Genre Film Festival, which will take place at New People Cinema in the Japantown neighborhood. The festival will screen horror, sci-fi, dark fantasy and exploitation films, with a focus on independent films. There will be 15 awards given out, judged by the audience, in addition to two awards chosen by festival staff. The event is a subsidiary of the San Francisco Independent Film Festival, a non-profit organization hosting film festivals and events year-round.

📍New People Cinema, 1746 Post St, San Francisco, CA

FUN | SuperNatural Halloween

📅 Fri Oct 28th

Celebrate Halloween this year at the California Academy of Sciences with the SuperNatural Halloween event. This family-friendly event brings people from around the city to the academy after dark to enjoy a spooky and festive night of fun. The event will feature trick-or-treating, dancing, face painting, magic shows, scientists and specimens, live animal shows, giant pumpkin carving, crafts, photo booths and food and drinks. General admission adult tickets are $50 and child tickets are $35. All adults must be accompanied by a child, and all attendees are encouraged to dress up in costume.

📍California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA